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Thursday, Jun 20, 2024

Ruth Hardy adapts campaign to the times in second run for Vermont State Senate

Up for re-election in the Vermont Senate this fall is Senator Ruth Hardy (D-Addison), who was first elected to the office in 2018 and is currently running for her second term. Hardy described adapting her campaign approach this year and reflected on overall changes in Vermont Legislature sessions given the ongoing Covid-19 crisis during an interview with The Campus.

The Vermont Legislature typically convenes in January and adjourns in May. Disrupted by the pandemic this year, legislators worked largely remotely after a two-week recess in March and later adjourned in June. The legislature also reassembled in August for an unprecedented six-week second session to work out a number of items on the docket postponed earlier this year.

Continued efforts to combat the spread of Covid-19 have changed Hardy’s campaign and those of her colleagues. The senator noted a shift from face-to-face campaigning to phone calls, honk-and-waves and socially distanced outdoor events.

“In 2018, I knocked on thousands of doors around my district, just canvassing and talking to voters at their homes, and I’m not doing that this year,” Hardy said. “I just don’t feel like it’s safe for me or for them, and it doesn’t set a good example to show up at people’s houses unannounced.” 

Although she was unopposed in the August primary, Hardy still worked to reach her constituents. She launched a socially distanced campaign that included making phone calls, mailing letters and using social media after the fall legislative session ended. 

With two seats in the Vermont Senate apportioned to the Addison District and five candidates vying for a spot, Hardy faces some competition in the general election. But she noted that she views her race for re-election as less competitive this year than her 2018 race when she was a new candidate and stacked up against incumbents. 

Separate from her campaign, Hardy said that she is particularly proud of the tri-partisan effort in the legislature to convene virtually after the floor closed. Members of the legislature ultimately voted unanimously to approve remote legislation, allowing the state government to continue working safely in a time of crisis. 

“In normal sessions, we caucus with our parties,” she said. “But during the pandemic, we caucused as a whole. We never met separately. We always did everything together. And nearly every single vote on Covid-19-related things was unanimous. This is something I’m really proud of, and our state should be really proud that we have not approached this coronavirus crisis as a partisan issue in Vermont.”

On the individual level, Hardy was also among the senators advocating the closure of the Montpelier Vermont State House in March, advancing a proactive mindset and an emphasis on safety while confronting the pandemic.

At the beginning of the public health crisis, Hardy began reaching out to her constituents and helping them stay safe by providing resources and advice. “I was hearing from constituents about how worried they were and how scared they were,” Hardy said.

“It’s going to be incredibly important that our state continue its vigilance and the collaborative work during the recovery from [Covid-19],” Hardy said. “We still have a lot more work to get through the pandemic, and then a lot of work to recover and rebuild our economy, rebuild our healthcare system and, frankly, our educational system as a result of this pandemic.”

Hardy also serves on the Senate Committee on Education and the Senate Committee on Agriculture, significant to Addison County, which has the most farms of any county in the state. She also worked toward the adoption of climate change legislation that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state of Vermont. 

Additionally, with a rise in anti-racist initiatives and the ongoing nationwide protests against police brutality, Hardy plans to continue being an advocate in the Vermont Senate for criminal justice reform, “holding our police accountable and… making sure that we’re passing antiracist legislation in Vermont.”

Hardy encourages Middlebury College students to vote this Tuesday in the town of Middlebury if they haven’t yet received or returned their absentee ballots. “This election is so important to the future of our country,” she said. “Wherever you vote, please vote.”

Senator Ruth Hardy is married to Professor Jason Mittell, academic advisor to The Campus.

Becca Amen

Becca Amen '22 is the Senior Local Editor.

She previously served as a Local editor, a staff writer and a copy editor.

Amen is a joint major in English and American Literatures and Philosophy.

During the summer of 2021, she interned at New England Review, where  she recorded and produced an episode of their literary podcast. Her past  stories include coverage on Ruth Hardy's run for Vermont State Senator  and a report on the town of Middlebury's 2019 climate strike.

In addition to her work at The Campus, Amen hosts a radio show on  WRMC, Middlebury's college radio, and serves as an editor for  Middlebury's Blackbird art and literary journal.